QS World University Rankings 2024 methodology

QS World University Rankings methodology: Using rankings to start your university search

By Craig OCallaghan

Updated September 28, 2023 Updated September 28, 2023

The 20th edition of the QS World University Rankings features 1,500 institutions across 104 locations and is the only ranking of its kind to emphasise employability and sustainability.

This year, we've implemented our largest-ever methodological enhancement, introducing three new metrics: Sustainability, Employment Outcomes and International Research Network. 

The results draw on the analysis of 17.5m academic papers and the expert opinions of over 240,000 academic faculty and employers. Massachusetts Institute of Technology celebrates twelve years at the top, the University of Cambridge retains 2nd place while the University of Oxford (3rd) climbs one position. 

This 20th edition of our rankings comes at a time when priorities in higher education are evolving. QS sits in the privileged position of being a nexus point in the higher education sector – connected to millions of students, hundreds of thousands of academics and employers, and thousands of institutions worldwide.

We have seen the focus of these different stakeholder’s shift in response to wider trends in education and society, and to reflect this collective intelligence in our QS performance insights, we have incorporated three new indicators into the QS World University Ranking.


Sustainability has become a touchpoint for global institutions as they come to realise their impact on the world, and students have come to expect institutions to tackle issues related to social and climate justice. The QS International Student Survey 2022 found that 80 percent of students think universities could do more for the environment. This is reflective of a wider trend of younger students who advocate strongly for social and environmental activism. We have recognised this call to action by adding a five percent weight Sustainability lens to our flagship world ranking, the first of the major rankings to do so to reflect the crucial role universities play in charting the course and driving change towards a more sustainable future.

Employment outcomes

We have also continued to strengthen our insight on employability and remain the only major ranking to enshrine the importance of employability in our methodology. To do this, we have boosted the weight of Employer Reputation to 15 percent and added Employment Outcomes at five percent.

International research network

Our third new metric, International Research Network, is another way of recognising the importance of research in changing the world. This metric specifically provides insight on how internationally connected an institution’s research is as well as recognising the importance of collaborative research more broadly.

Read more on the QSIU Support blog.

This article was originally published in August 2016 . It was last updated in September 2023

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